Rebirth of Reason

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Post 0

Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 8:25amSanction this postReply

Glad you weren't in a position where you decided to use the n-word. And Rand help you had I been there and you used the word fag. Those two words may not relate directly to ATLAS SHRUGGED, but the point is that even if you used the word correctly, there are other points to consider besides how rational the woman was. If you were in mixed company around people you may not have known or met before, why would you choose to use that word? And if you were so brazen to use it then, why couldn't you find a rhyme for it in your little poem?
You felt it was ok to inquire into the psyche of this woman then, so let's continue, shall we? What if the woman grew up in an abusive household, where she was constantly called a
"little bitch?" Or maybe her father called her mother a "bitch " in front of the girl, as he beat her in a drunken stupor?
You attempt to cover up your rudeness by attacking the PC police, yet really, it seems to me, just didn't consider the woman's feelings. You had a chance to reach out to someone, if you would have listened to the woman (and don't feed me a line about her refusing to reason; there is more to communication than words, but also body language, emotional reactions...) You attempt to justify this by defending your words with reason; emotions be damned!

Don't go placing the blame on the PC police on this one.

Post 1

Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 2:20pmSanction this postReply
Why "bitch" is *objectively* invalid...

I might hesitate to agree with Joe and put primary emphasis on the feelings or the traumatic experience of the recipient,because people can be upset by anything and I think it's more important to express one's best that to avoid harm to others.

But I wholly agree with him that this "dictionary" approach is nonsense.

Words pick up meanings through a complex process of history and usage, sense and reference.  Words do not only differentiate concretes, but implicitly stipulate which concepts and particulars are significant in human eyes.  Yes, we can look up in the dictionary and then objectively divide up who is "black, white, hispanic, etc."  But that doesn't mean that the entire concept of categorization by "race" was a good one to make, and it doesn't alter the history of the meanings... for instance, which language a term comes from, and the implicit demand by a speaker who insists of the exclusive objectivie ofhis/her language by insisting on "negro" or "black" rather than "african american" or "person of color".  "Race" is still an anti-concept, which the ancient world did without and is far better for it.

This treatment of language refies and calcifies the current usage as sacrosanct.  I do not like the PC approach, but there are other ways to oppose such worldviews than adopting conservative and intrinsicist theories of langauge.

Rand's theory of language was *objective*, not intrinsic.  There is nothing objective about ascribing authority to dictionaries or to common (dominant) usage.  There are plenty of smear terms, anti-concepts, misintegrated concepts, floating abstractions, and forzen concretes in dictionaries.

Should the Left be exonerated from it's usage of "capitalism" by the fact that the dictionary more liekly agrees with their definition than that of libertarians?  No?  Then the same applies to the definitons of persons.  Reason, indeed, is the standard.

And the term "bitch", which asigns particular approbrium to character traits *when they specifically occur in a female*, and not in a human being generally, is not one of them.  It doesn't make a person a vicious bastard (notice the contradiction?) to use the term, but proclaiming to be a hero of rational individualism for withstanding the "PC" assaults of a person who could well be justly protesting sexism is not one of them.

The problem with "bitch" isn't that it offends...but that it slides a subtle false idea... that hostile resentful is a trait especially virulent in female... into the correct or incorrect evaluation of a particualr female as hostile and resentful.

Reason demands criticism of dictionaries, not their acceptance.

Jeanine Ring

P.S.  and believe me, I'm not part of the P.C. crowd.  One of their precious saints recently spoke to my face words indicating I was no longer a human being, and that in front of several news cameras.

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Post 2

Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 9:30pmSanction this postReply
Jeez Louise, Joe & Jeanine - lighten up!

Luther, I got from your "poem" the chuckle you hoped for. Indeed, I got *belly-laughs* from it. I got belly-laughs from 3 things in particular:

1) The comedic content;

2) The surpassing awfulness of the "poetry" :-);

3) The two po-faced responses above.

This last was the most hilarious of the three. Sheesh!


Post 3

Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 9:55pmSanction this postReply
Joe: I've always found it curious that it is acceptable for supposedly off-limit words to be used by the groups themselves that are denigrated. For instance, blacks can use the 'n' word amongst themselves, and actually revel in it. Homosexuals have a wonderful ability of self parody and also revel in calling each other 'fags' and 'flaming queens' and so on. Anyone outside these groups using those terms would surely be condemned.

However, I find it passing strange that you would have such a violent criticism to Luther's use of a very innocuous word, at least in the culture of today,  where women jokingly refer to each other as bitches and ho's.

You certainly belong to the primacy of feelings school, as evidenced by the above and also your articles on Jung on both this and the Mudita board. Can it be that you are miffed by the lack of response to your futile goal of unifying Objectivism and Jungian psychology? The concept of a collective (ugh, ptttuoi, retch) unconscious is contrary to anything that Rand ever wrote. 

Post 4

Monday, September 27, 2004 - 12:08amSanction this postReply

Thank you for the informative responses.  I have my own way of doing things and I found the mixed reactions interesting.  For a little more background, read this message I posted to our Objectivist Club list the day after the incident.

Incidentally, the masculine counterpart to the word in question is bastard.  I doubt any of the men at the table would have flinched had I called Ellsworth Toohey such a name even if they had been called that name in abusive households as children.

Luke Setzer

Post 5

Monday, September 27, 2004 - 5:58amSanction this postReply
Sam wrote:

"You certainly belong to the primacy of feelings school, as evidenced by the above and also your articles on Jung on both this and the Mudita board. Can it be that you are miffed by the lack of response to your futile goal of unifying Objectivism and Jungian psychology? The concept of a collective (ugh, ptttuoi, retch) unconscious is contrary to anything that Rand ever wrote."

Uh, no. I didn't post that here in order to change anyone's minds, but to share with those who already have an interest in such.
As for what Luke wrote, it hit a nerve. But instead of starting a flame war, since I don't think we are going to change each other's minds. I'm just going to leave it at "I disagree."

Post 6

Monday, September 27, 2004 - 12:07pmSanction this postReply
Joe: On further thought, I perhaps could give you some slack if the forum that Luther described was one  that was part of a twelve step recovery program, or such; but this was a forum for Objectivists.


Post 7

Monday, September 27, 2004 - 5:20pmSanction this postReply
Very funny, Luke. For all the reasons already stated by Linz.

Post 8

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 1:18pmSanction this postReply
Wonderful. A=A is not PC and neither am I ! Though my dad would say, "Remember son, discretion is the better part of valor." Which makes me wonder, what is the worse part of valor? Hmmm.


Post 9

Saturday, October 2, 2004 - 10:52amSanction this postReply
Joe: I've always found it curious that it is acceptable for supposedly off-limit words to be used by the groups themselves that are denigrated. For instance, blacks can use the 'n' word amongst themselves, and actually revel in it. Homosexuals have a wonderful ability of self parody and also revel in calling each other 'fags' and 'flaming queens' and so on. Anyone outside these groups using those terms would surely be condemned.


It would be accurate to say that such parodic references are 'acceptable', not among those who belong to the group in question, so much as those who have shown by context they are accepting of a group in question.

As a fence-sitting trannydyke capitalist sow, I don't mind it if people throw practically any words (there are worse ones I won't print) at me in a *context* where no harm is clearly intended and where such words would be withdrawn if they did actually harm.  But I do not speak to people who use the same words as tools of margianlization, dismissal, silencing, and dehumanization.

Now, a harmless context is easier for me to validate when I know someone is in the in-groupin quiestion, just because they're far less likely to be hostile, but that is not the strict standard.  If a square girlfriend or a courteous business acquaintance wants to use nasty language with me as a means of irreverant solidarity or recognition, that's fine.  But if a fellow transgender, queer, or co-worker starts calling me names I regard as offensive out of projected motives of self-hatred, or in exploitation a presumed group loyalty, or to establish some mournful cult of degradation and humility, I don't take it well any more than I would if the person was straight and square.

I can understand why the "wha's up, all ma Niggaz" phenomenon seems hypocritical from the outside, as it did to me in most of my former life.  But it makes much more sense as a useful conveyance of comaradie in persecuted subcultures once you get involved firsthand.  It's a benevolent way of granting trust, saying "I know you are a person who means well, so go ahead and say the worse, you've proved I don;t have to worry".  Rand herself used this tactic; her capitalist heroes in Atlas Shrugged continuously reclaim terms of opprobrium in prideful solidarity, calling eaach other "exploiters" and adopting the sign of the dollar.  Thus did Rand talk of "capitalism, the unknown ideal" and "the virtue of selfishness".  When gay male culture uses the term "faggot" and adopts the pink triangle, the same principle is in play.

I once knew a libertarian of Iberian Latino background whose personal passion was Afro-American Civil Rights; he was a member of the Black student union at my college and none of the members would have tensed a bit had he used the "n" word... though he was far too much the embarassed Guilty White Liberal (despite his politics) to ever try, I must say!

We don't have to be postmodernists, but it sure is a postmodern world out there! 

But there's nothing irrational or subjectivist about the patterns of language here. It's a matter of a different linguistic heritage, in terms of the ways in which language structure develops in response different social experiences.  Standard American English is still very much a language of Norman conquerers mainly concerned about presenting an open sword-hand to a stranger met on the road; while the American gay male subculture has filtered down, via several channels, from a southern European aristocratic culture of client/patronage protection and this shows in its linguistic habits.  The same is true of my own subculture, whose taproot is also Mediterranean.

It is worth noting that as a Hollywood screenwriter, Rand was well familiar with the cultural history involved; Gail Wynand and Francisco d'Anconia are distinctively southern European aristocrats and conduct business according to Mediterranean customs; the former in an assimilated Norman Sicilian, the latter is specifically a descendant of an Iberian marrano.  (see http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Marranos - Io, Chris! back me up on this.., mi Casa es tu Casa!)  As an aside, I find it strange that so few Objectivists notice the subtle but continous layering of cultural allusions in Rand's writing.  Or maybe not so strange, given, as Leo Strauss has pointed out, that a central component of the 'Western' tradition in philosophy is an esoteric writing which is not supposed to be fully understood by most readers.

I'm not saying we should accept any of these patterns without question, only that one needs to cultivate sympathetic understanding prior to criticism.  I support the classical liberal conception of the educated transcendence of parochial cultures towards a universal cosmopolis of the Republic of Letters.  But I do not support the contemporary vulgarized universalism which reads its own cultural prejudices into universal reasonand then proceeds to judge other cultures by this psuedo-universal standard.

Unfortunately, today's anti P.C. types do this regularly, which just fuels the P.C.ists' conviction that universal reason *is* nothing more than a tool of white male supremacy.  It's a case of the visually challenged fighting the blind.

Jeanie Ring {))(*)((}
stand forth!

Post 10

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 - 8:44pmSanction this postReply
Does anyone find it odd that adults use phrasing like "the n word" or "the c word", even in the course of an intellectual conversation? There are cultural conventions to consider to. In the U.K., cunt gets throw around in a friendly way. Words are just words, and only become empowered if the people using them choose to. Nigger is odd too, in that it is a French (?) rooted word, from neger, meaning "black person". Negro means black.

Great storytelling Mr. Setzer, although I agree with Mr. Perigo that from a critique on the technical side, it is pretty damn awful.


Post 11

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 8:36amSanction this postReply

"It should not be necessary to say it, but today it is: anyone who wants to be understood, has to make damn sure that he has made himself intelligible."

--Rand, Ayn (1990-06-30). The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought: 5 (The Ayn Rand Library) (p. 31). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

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Post 12

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 6:18amSanction this postReply

In collegial exchanges, close friends refer to each other using the most vile terms imaginable, and in context, it is clear there is no malcontent.   Quite the opposite, it is a sign of intimate affection.   "We are so close that we can call each other such things and we both know it means nothing but that we re-affirming that we are close."


One of my very best friends in HS signed my yearbook "Once a cock, always a cock.   Eat me."


It is for sure the basis of those who direct the word nigger at each other, with affection, not malice.


Said another way; if men truly treated women as close equals, if heteros and homos truly were beyond all the nonsense, it would be common for men to refer to women as cunts, for women to refer to men as dicks, for folks of all types to refer to each other as faggots and breeders, niggers and honkies, and for the only emotion to be realized in any of that is harmless collegial mirth; the certain knowledge that none of that means anything at all, in fact, the opposite of malcontent.


Maybe not publicly so.   But certainly in private.    And there are those two spheres again.    Because when we are in public, it may not be clear to all who see the exchange what the close nature of the participants are.   And so, maybe sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, when it comes to bravely hurling words into the public sphere that clearly can have two meanings.


The source of their power to inflict pain is the malcontent, not the words.  What is inexplicable about the anger directed at Luke in that story is that he was directing the attribute towards the idea of a fictional character, and some other actual human being stepped in line and took offense...to the word!  As if she were taking one for the team, or fancied herself Kevin Costner in 'The Bodyguard", protecting the female species from the .308 that is 'bitch.'    It couldn't possibly have been to the malcontent, becuase that wasn't directed at her or anybody but the fictional character Lillian.   And personally, I'd have said 'cunt,' but that is just me.


And for the last remaining truly crippled human beings who must rush into such discussions and declare certain words their special province of privelege, I can only look away and be thankful that I have not been so crippled as to cling to something like that.  I am not about to elevate a word to the status of demi-deity.    There are certain religions where it is a sin to use the written word God.   At most, G*d.   So it is becoming with ni**er, as if we can't see what's underneath the two **s.   Seriously?    We are making a demi-god out of that word?    Only ho**ies would do that.








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